Anatomy of a Sourcing Leader: Tito Magobet

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Aug 25, 2011

On October 13, SourceCon will kick off with a keynote presentation from Tito Magobet. Tito was most recently Manager, Global Talent Sourcing for Research in Motion (RIM); I first met Tito at Microsoft in 2003 – we started the same day. Within months, Tito developed a reputation as a brilliant, hardworking sourcer. Since Microsoft, Tito has built a career as a sourcing leader at an enviable list of companies, including Google and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Tito’s keynote will focus on building actionable talent intelligence strategies. There are probably fewer than a dozen experts on this topic in the world. I asked Tito a few questions about his career and leadership style. His responses reveal a thoughtful, passionate, committed sourcing professional.

You are often described as creative — even visionary — when it comes to sourcing. How do you stay sharp? Where do your ideas come from?

  • Staying connected to other creative sourcers in your sourcing community. I do this through my involvement in the Seattle S7 (Sourcing Seven) special interest group, staying up to date on select sourcing and recruiting blogs, and reading up on sourcing/recruiting white papers.
  • Constantly re-evaluating my sourcing model, tools, systems, and processes in order to explore new options, angles, and approaches.
  • By consistently evaluating emerging tools, systems, and technologies. Spending time meeting with representatives from new companies expands our learning opportunities and professional network.
  • By constantly looking at the trends in internal and external data. You’ll be surprised regarding the patterns that arise from the data (reading the tea leaves).
  • I also keep a journal by my bedside for those late night dreams/visions and voice notes for random creative thoughts when I’m driving home. Good ideas come at the strangest times and you want to be able to capture the details while they are fresh in your mind.

What is the key to managing sourcers? What are the qualities of a top sourcer?

One of the keys to managing sourcers is hiring great sourcers. This makes the management job much easier. Hiring people who really want to be sourcers and are good at it. The other pieces are setting a clear path, which starts with setting high level vision and direction for the team, but also taking that vision and cascading it down into a granular set of individual goals and objectives (with granular metrics). It also helps if you come from the sourcing lineage yourself, so you can speak their language and can work together creatively to remove roadblocks and obstacles.

There are many qualities that top sourcers share, but I believe one of the most important qualities is also shared by top recruiters and that is being impact/results oriented. I’ve managed some of the brightest and most creative individuals (even a few PhD’s) and my top performers have always been very results oriented. I believe that key qualities are:

  • Creativity
  • Highly analytical
  • Innovative
  • Self directed
  • Excellent problem solver
  • Inquisitive
  • Enjoy searching for things and the thrill of the hunt
  • Data oriented

How do you get your teams to deliver?

I get my teams to deliver by proactively integrating their thoughts and ideas in all aspects of the sourcing operation — from strategy development through the formulation of goals and objectives. I learned a long time ago that “it takes a village” to execute on the demands, complexity, and challenges of global sourcing and I believe in hiring great talent and creating an empowering environment for sourcers to do their best work. I believe that setting clear expectations around goals and objectives is very important, and this coupled with a structured performance planning cycle is also key to delivery. But I’ve also been very fortunate regarding the incredibly talented individuals that I’ve had the opportunity to hire and manage.

What is your management style?

I guess this depends on the team and individual members. You can probably ask different people on my team and although they will probably be some consistent themes, you will likely hear different answers based on where each individual is at in their career. One thing that I’m not is a micro-manager. I think about the qualities that I like to have in a supervisor (autonomy, flexibility, transparency, respect, honest feedback, direct, etc.), and I do my best to model those same behaviors in my style and approach.

You have worked at Microsoft and at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Have you met Bill Gates? Have you ever talked shop with him? What did he say? Inquiring minds want to know.

Although I did have an opportunity to meet Bill Gates, the dialogue was short but it was exciting to talk with him. His father is a very interesting individual and is truly an inspirational leader.

Lastly, if you could have coffee with anyone — living or dead — who would you invite?

I don’t mean to get spiritual here, but it would have to be Jesus Christ. I don’t know of anyone whose life on Earth had such a profound impact on global history. His life and belief system is still one of the most studied and debated subjects there is.

Anything else you’d like to know from Tito? Ask it in the comments below.

Stay tuned next week as we bring you more interviews from the presenters for the upcoming SourceCon conference in Silicon Valley, October 12-14. Don’t forget to register – we’ll see you there!

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